I really do love this time of year, although it always comes sooner than I realize and sometimes I don’t soak it all in before it’s gone. Looking forward to some baking, crafting, picture-taking, and hanging out with friends and family.

On Sunday, my siblings and cousins came over for the day. We packed ourselves into 3 cars and headed to Discovery Green to ice skate—for most of them, their first time on the ice. Lots of other Houstonians had the same idea (you should see how excited our city gets when it actually snows) so the rink was roughly as crowded and chaotic as a livestock pen, but it was fun nonetheless. Afterward we all went back to our place, ate shepherd’s pie and candy, rediscovered the charms of Home Alone, before ending the night in a quest for frozen yogurt. I hope these all form part of a new family tradition. The thing about having multiple sides of your giant extended family in one area is that traditions don’t always have a chance to emerge and stick; one year, you go to one aunt’s, the next year maybe you’re at your uncle’s on the other side.

I have an endless supply of kraft paper at work and, since I gave away all my wrapping paper during the Great Moving Purge of 2011, I thought I would try making my own with the help of these stamps from Yellow Owl Workshop. BJ was let down a bit that our freakishly odorless fraser fir didn’t fill the air with those signature evergreen smells that mark the arrival of the holidays. His words. I grew up with the plastic trees, so I really didn’t get what I was missing out on. But it made sense after he band-aided the problem with a “Christmas wreath” candle that has our place smelling recognizably Christmas-y. In winterless Houston, these measures are necessary. For decorations, I’ve been working on Confetti System-inspired ornaments after seeing it on esb’s pinterest. I have a soft spot for soothingly repetitive crafts (beading, papercutting, the like) and this falls right into that category. Plus, I think they’ll work well as year-round decor, right?